Swine Flu Garners Pandemic Status

"Maybe it was a little over the top what they had us do," noted Hayden's mother, Robin Henshaw. "But I just think it was necessary at the time. At the time they really didn't know."

Balancing Public Health Against Panic

The swine flu saga, now in its second month, is the first exposure many Americans have had to an influenza pandemic. For many, the use of the term pandemic has resurrected images of the infamous 1918 pandemic, which is believed to have caused 50 million deaths worldwide.

But subsequent pandemics have been far less deadly, resulting in far fewer deaths than the seasonal flu in the years in which they struck.

"We have readily weathered pandemics in 1968 and 1957 and, yes, there was some increase in the numbers of deaths due primarily to pneumonia, but commerce proceeded normally," said Dr. D.A.Henderson, professor of medicine and public health at the University of Pittsburgh. "In the course of warnings and preparation, the word 'pandemic' now conjures up a 1918-like scenario and, regrettably, many of our public health gurus have themselves become fixated on this scenario."

Still, the threat may not be completely over. Some infectious disease experts said the worst could come later in the year if the virus resurges or becomes more deadly.

"The big bang -- if it comes -- will be in the fall," said Dr. Peter Katona, associate professor of clinical medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles. "Public health officials have to be very careful not to look foolish by having the appropriate level of concern."

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Do you want to know more about swine flu? Visit the ABC News OnCall+ Swine Flu Center to get all your questions answered.

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